Archive for August 2005

Subterranean Suffering

As I indicated a couple of posts ago, I’m headed to Columbus later in the week to meet with family and to perform with my Ohio State marching band alumni at the Buckeyes’ home opener against Miami (OH) this Saturday.  About 650 of us (including 6 guys from the 30s according to the roster) will march and play for pregame and halftime, culminating in the quad Script Ohio”

In order to be able to participate somewhat, or at least not detract significantly, from the band’s sound, I’ve been heading down to the basement, as I did last year, to terrorize the arachnids with my trumpet.

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Those arpeggios and triplets might roll flawlessly off my tongue, but in order for my fingers to keep up, a good trumpet player always keeps his valves lubricated.

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Not even spiders should have to endure the cacophony of my second day of practice.

One Down, Three To Go

Someone’s broken into a Children’s Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and stolen a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the making of the Wizard of Oz.   The museum’s curator ruefully recalled the encounter with the suspect, posing as a travelling farm implement salesman stranded in Grand Rapids.

“I told him he could sleep in the barn (where the museum is located) as long as he locked the door and didn’t open it when my daughter inevitably came knocking.  Little did I know that guys who are interested in Judy Garland’s clothing items, well, wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about my daughter.”

It would be an amusing tale if that’s as far as it went.  However, a review of the farmer’s DairyCam tapes (installed, he maintained, for security purposes, but, well…) disclosed the following image of the perp:

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FBI agents ran the image through their database of men who have taken flying lessons in the last six months AND checked out the latest Harry Potter book from the library, came up empty, and left town without comment.  However, Mindy Lingstad, a copy editor for the Grand Rapids Lutefisk, recognized the individual as Vice President Dick Cheney, and the game was afoot.

The article states that, in all, there were four pairs of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland during the course of making the film.  Speculation leaked from the most forward-thinking liberal think tank in residence at the Blue Moon Tavern in Seattle, WA centered on a theory that the administration, following loosely on the theme of the Lord Of The Rings, was attempting to acquire all four pairs of the coveted ruby slippers.

Once obtained, the Chosen Four - George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Condi Rice - would slip them on, click them 3 times in unison, and whisk the Administration from it’s insoluble conundrum in Iraq to the friendlier climes of Kansas, where the tenets of evolution would not be applied to their pre-Cambrian concepts of foreign policy.

In a related rumor, it is speculated that the Administration is importuning NASA to nudge tropical storm Katrina towards New York, there to deposit an unprepossessing wood frame house on Hillary Clinton as she bicycled from the Bolshevik Nostalgia Museum to a rally for Cindy Sheehan.  Just for insurance.

And Toto, too, if Roseanna Arquette can play Dorothy, and gets it on with the Tin Man.

Weather Cat AssTrophy

As if in sympathy with happenings on the Gulf Coast, our weather here, after weeks of placid, sunny days, turned on a dime yesterday afternoon - cooled off 10 or 15 degrees, clouded over and started pouring.  It was pouring again when I got up this morning.  This kind of weather shift is mood-altering.  It’s even had its effect on interspecies relations, as the cats, who have been lounging languidly around the yard the last few weeks and haven’t had much use for us, suddenly find a need for intimate human contact with their wet, scruffy fur.  I feel like throwing them into the shower, or giving them an e-ticket ride in the dryer.  They have their advocates in the house, though, and I’ll probably restrict myself to growling childishly at them when no one’s looking.

I’m hoping this weather change is just a ruse to chase the tourists away, and will give way to our Secret Indian Summer Festival (will the NCAA still let me call it that?), which lasts from Labor Day through mid-October.

Back to Seattle, Luckily.

I arrived home in Seattle last night at 11:15, on time, but nonetheless a narrow escapee of the mechanics strike against Northwest Airlines.  When I arrived at the Milwaukee airport to begin my journey home, I anticipated an hour or so winding down in the Worldclub there - cramped by most standards, but staffed by the friendliest and most service-oriented people I’ve met in the entire airline.  People who say, “Hi, Phil!” when I wander in on a Friday night looking like hell.

Last night, though, my Milwaukee-Minneapolis flight was showing a 30-minute delay.  I wasn’t too concerned, as I had a 2+ hour layover in Minneapolis.  I knew there was an earlier flight that I could run to the gate to catch, but I was already assigned my first class seat on my booked flight, and I was fine with waiting out any delay.  When checking into the Worldclub, however, the person at the desk urged me to go catch the earlier flight - plus, she said she could get me “up front” - a first class seat.  So, I followed her advice and headed for the gate instead of pouring myself a drink and letting the week slake off of me.

I got my boarding pass and took my seat, “up-front” as promised, and watched as more and more refugees from the later flight poured onto the plane in a tribal migration away from something that they’ve been taught to flee from - the last flight out of an airport that appears to be having “issues”.

We got to Minneapolis without incident, and it wasn’t a bad thing - MSP is a Northwest hub, and the Worldclub is a lot more spacious and opulent, a fine place to spend my (now) 3+ hour layover.  My flight to Seattle departed on time and arrived a little ahead of schedule.

When I retrieved my bags, however, I noticed that the tags read “Frontier Airlines - Rush”, and that they’d been routed on Frontier through Denver to Seattle.  Interesting experience for my dirty clothes.  Curious, I checked the flight information for my originally-scheduled flight, and saw that it had been cancelled for “aircraft maintenance”.  So, if I’d waited around for it, I’d have spent Friday night in Milwaukee, and had to take whatever seats were available on the Saturday flights.

On the surface, if I hadn’t noticed the non-standard routing for my checked luggage, all would have seemed even better than normal.  It’ll be interesting to see what effects this strike will have as more aircraft need maintenance.  I’m scheduled to fly them again Wednesday night.

Perhaps If Willie Nelson Had Recorded The Theme Music?

Wow, is this a strange wag-the-dog story.  Oddly, the person that seems the least traumatized is the 10-year-old child star of the fake films, for whom it may be a great resume-builder if she chooses to bolt the cornbelt for Hollywood.  It all sounds awfully KarlRovian, except for the small scale and the seeming lack of malicious intent.

SportsCenter Next

One of the reasons that this trip seems to have less free time is that a couple other guys I’m working with are staying at my hotel, and, where in past trips I could repair to my room after work with a takeout dinner from Panera’s, on this trip the workday blends into dinner in the hotel restaurant, and I don’t get to my room until 10, leaving me 2 hours to take care of any issues that have come up among my other clients.

That was the case last night.  We ate in the bar and resolved most of the company’s challenges by transferring blame to those not present, but even that process takes a while for people of character - there are resilient layers of conscience that one has to slake off first. 

All the while, the TV over the bar would sometimes distract us.  It must be a slow sports summer here in southeast Wisconsin, as the riveting attraction the last two nights has been the Little League baseball championships on ESPN.  At first glance, it seems benign, if a little frivolous, to give the kids a day in the sun.  Then, as it dawns on you that there are grown men sitting at the bar and shouting, swearing even, at the umpires, and the cameras close in on 11-year-olds with tears running down their cheeks after a miscue or strikeout, it begins to feel a lot like a weird sort of child pornography, demure, but somehow faintly prurient.  I have sometimes favored banning parents from Little League games (especially when I was a coach, a high school kid, and had parents livid with me because their kid wasn’t getting playing time), so how is it better to invite a national television audience to the party?

Ah, it’ll pass.  I wonder who’ll be playing tonight?  You know, some of the moms in the stands are hot

Dead Man Blogging

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Statuary patrolling the breakwater at Shilshole Marina, taken from my kayak on Saturday.

Running ragged on this trip, not much time for the reflective, incisive posts that both of you come here for. (Thanks, Mom!).  Watch this space.

WATCH, I said!  I saw you glance away!

No-Frills Regime Change

In a refreshing suggestion to pursue fiscal restraint in unseating dictators who offend God by sassing the U.S., Pat Robertson says we should just kill them, and forswear $200 billion military operations.  This is the kind of outside-the-box thinking that our government needs.  And to think we sent that milquetoast John Bolton to the U.N.

Flight Line

I’m sitting at SeaTac waiting for my flight to Minneapolis, then on to Milwaukee for the week.  My reservation, made 3 - 4 weeks ago, is on Northwest, whose mechanics went on strike Friday night.  The airline so far says it will continue flying, and, other than some pickets by the skycap kiosk, everything about my day has been normal so far, although I see my inbound plane will be 40 minutes late.  My brothers helpfully forwarded an article about a Northwest plane from Seattle that blew 4 tires upon landing in Detroit.  I’m thinking that things will be fairly normal in the first few days, but that delays and cancellations will be more likely as maintenance backlogs build up and aircraft are taken out of service, perhaps as early as my return trip Friday night.  I also have a Northwest reservation over Labor Day weekend, when I’m flying to Columbus to visit with family and take part in my Ohio State Marching Band reunion at the game against Miami (Ohio).

I feel badly for anyone involved in the airline business - unions, management, passengers.  Both Northwest and Delta seem likely to declare bankruptcy before the new bankruptcy law takes effect in October, and I’m not optimistic about being able to use my large stash of frequent flyer miles.  I’d sorta been saving them for something big - like Australia.

Statues at Liberty

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Here’s what happens when the promoters serve too much fermented lava and don’t provide enough Port-a-Grottos at a rock concert.